Jake Doud, a high school senior from Firestone, CO, will join 29 other transplant recipients from around the country riding aboard the 12th annual Donate Life float in the nationally televised Rose Parade on January 1 in Pasadena, CA. The 2015 Donate Life float, The Never-Ending Story, highlights the enduring power of organ, eye and tissue donation.
Doud received a bone and cartilage transplant in 2014 after suffering years of knee pain. His debilitating pain benched him from soccer, basketball and track. Doctors used donated bone and cartilage to replace his damaged tissue and realign the weight-bearing line in his leg. After his recovery time, Doud is healing and able to participate in many of his favorite athletic endeavors. He is profoundly grateful for the donated tissue that helped him heal and is excited for the opportunity to promote donation on a national scale.
AlloSource provided the allografts used in Doud’s surgery and is sponsoring his participation in the Rose Parade. The company is one of the nation’s largest providers of skin, bone and soft tissue allografts for use in surgical procedures, and the world’s largest processor of cellular bone allografts.
“Jake’s experience illustrates the healing possibilities of donated human tissue,” said Thomas Cycyota, AlloSource president and CEO. “We are proud to send a representative from Colorado to the Rose Parade and we know Jake’s story will help many people better understand the importance of tissue donation.”
Continue reading this story here.
For a man who was told he shouldn’t climb stairs, climbing Mt. Everest might seem an impossible, unreachable goal. Not for John Golden, who endured more than 20 knee surgeries over 20 years to repair injuries sustained from playing college football.
“I really felt a lack of hope,” John said. “I wanted to get out and be active, but each time I did, it hurt. So I fell into that cycle of not being active because it was painful.”
When faced with another surgery, John had a wake-up call. He realized that he was constantly presented with lists of things he couldn’t do instead of things he could do. He researched the top orthopedic doctors and focused his treatment on being active again, and not just getting rid of the pain.
“In my career, I challenged assumptions and advocated for myself, but not when it came to my health,” he said. “When working with previous doctors, I should have emphasized my desire for an active lifestyle and not just relief from pain.”
After talking with several doctors, John decided to work with Dr. Brian Cole at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Cole performed a double cartilage transplant to replace the damaged tissue in his left knee and leg.
John completed nine months of intense physical therapy after the procedure. As his healing progressed, he realized that he could do more than he first thought possible. Even though he had some activity restrictions, John came up with the idea of climbing a mountain.
Though he had never climbed a mountain prior to his knee issues, John set his sights on Mt. Rainier. He continued with physical therapy and found an experienced mountain climber to help him train.
“It was amazing,” said John. “Climbing Mt. Rainier was empowering on so many levels. To accomplish that after I’d been told I couldn’t do stairs was incredible.”
Never one to settle, John came up with a new goal: climbing Mt. Everest. He climbed 14 mountains in preparation for the expedition.
“I had to change my entire body to get ready for Mt. Everest. I learned to ice climb, prepared myself for the climate, and worked with the team to develop a strategy for climbing the mountain.”
In 2009, John arrived in Kathmandu to start his once-in-a-lifetime climb. He spent 50 days on the mountain, enduring harsh conditions and pushing his body to the limit. As they approached the summit, a sheet of ice broke and caused John to fall. The dangerous weather and John’s injuries forced them off the mountain.
“I am very grateful for my experience on Mt. Everest. I knew when I came back that I wanted to take this great journey and give it a voice. I was looking for a way to make my passion my life and give back to others.”
John got involved with company specializing in athletic training. He saw firsthand the benefits of personalized physical training and wanted to help others realize their goals.
John is currently the President of Product Pioneering at EXOS, a company specializing in proactive health and performance. EXOS trains professional athletes and military special operations groups and provides corporate game plans for large companies.
“I wanted to help connect people with solutions that give them hope and purpose. I feel that it’s a great way of giving back because I wouldn’t be where I am today without the transplant.”
Three Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) founded AlloSource in 1994 after recognizing an extraordinary need to replace diseased tissue in patients in their local communities, while simultaneously providing comfort to families grieving the loss of a loved one. AlloSource, the only non-profit tissue bank with OPOs as Corporate Members, was created from this blend of medical necessity and human compassion. Throughout the past 20 years, the company has evolved from a local organization into one of the largest tissue banks in the country with offices in New York, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, California and Missouri.
“We started two decades ago as an organization with a big mission and I’m proud to say that our mission is still our driving force,” said Thomas Cycyota, President and CEO. “The dedication of our employees and OPO partners is the key to our success, and I know our commitment to honoring the gift of donation will always serve as inspiration to advance cellular and tissue therapies to improve patient healing.”
Continue reading here.
Carson Palmer’s recent injury provided a timely opportunity for ESPN to talk about tissue donation. After receiving a donated Achilles tendon in an ACL repair, Palmer connected with his donor’s family. The tissue his surgeon implanted came from Julie De Rossi, the victim of a drunk driver. The article highlights his powerful connection to Julie’s family, as well as the importance of tissue donation.
As part of his background research for the story, ESPN reporter David Fleming visited AlloSource to learn more about how allografts are processed. His experience getting a firsthand look behind-the-scenes is included in the article.
Read the moving story here.
Spinal Elements, a spine technology company, is celebrating the two-year anniversary of the launch of their Hero Allograft. The Hero Allograft honors the gift of tissue donation and provides a chance for that gift to make a difference in the lives of children suffering from life-threatening conditions.
Spinal Elements estimates that by the end of this year, they will raise over $600,000 for children’s charities through the net proceeds from the Hero Allograft, processed by AlloSource. The donations are split between Make-A-Wish and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The company started a nationwide “Pledge to be a Hero” campaign, which offers surgeons and hospitals the opportunity to pledge to use only allograft tissue from companies that do not profit from the transfer of that tissue whenever clinically feasible.
AlloSource is proud to be Spinal Element’s tissue partner for the Hero Allograft and to honor the gift of life in a way that changes children’s lives.
AlloSource, one of the nation’s largest providers of skin, bone and soft tissue allografts for use in surgical procedures, and the world’s largest processor of cellular bone allografts, has been named the Company of the Year by the Colorado BioScience Association (CBSA). AlloSource is a repeat winner, having won this award in 2007.
CBSA’s annual Company of the Year award recognizes an established company that has experienced significant advancements within the year and highlights the vibrant bioscience industry in the state. For the past 11 years, CBSA has developed programs and policies to help Colorado companies thrive.
“We are honored to be part of Colorado’s pioneering bioscience industry,” said Thomas Cycyota, AlloSource President and CEO. “This has been a year of extraordinary growth for AlloSource. We are proud of what we’ve accomplished and are looking forward to where we’re going with new partnerships, product innovations and process initiatives focused on maximizing the gift of human tissue donation.”
Read more about this announcement here.
Throughout his four-year battle with cancer, allograft recipient Hunter Neelley amazed friends and family with his ability to always put others before himself. His positive attitude endured, even when he faced difficult rounds of chemotherapy and surgery to replace part of his femur with a donor bone.
When friends and family gathered to say goodbye to Hunter, the gym at Elizabeth High School was so full that the fire department had to temporarily waive its capacity limit.
His faithful spirit in the face of adversity lives on through his family, friends and many supporters.
Read more about Hunter’s life here.
Today we recognize the third annual BRA Day, an initiative promoting education, awareness and access regarding post-mastectomy breast reconstruction.
Advances in technology and medicine provide new possibilities for women undergoing breast reconstruction surgery – one of those options is made possible by donated human tissue.
Specifically, AlloSource’s AlloMend® ADM, created from donated human dermal tissue processed to remove viable cells and cellular elements, is an allograft that has been used in breast reconstruction procedures. For some women opting for a reconstruction using implants, the tissue provides support for a breast implant. Furthermore, the soft tissue provides a scaffold for the patient’s cells to repopulate and begin the revascularization and remodeling process.
The Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal estimates that over 56 percent of prosthetic-based breast reconstruction procedures may now use acellular dermal matrix.
As we honor BRA day, we also honor the generous donors who provided tissue used in procedures that help women enhance their confidence and self-image.
AlloSource, one of the nation’s largest providers of skin, bone and soft tissue allografts for use in surgical procedures, and the world’s largest processor of cellular bone allografts, signed a Space Act Agreement with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to collaborate on microbial research. AlloSource will leverage technologies developed by NASA/JPL for assembly and launch operations of various Mars missions — specifically, rapid molecular microbial burden measurement and genetic inventory cataloging — to advance microbial research in tissue processing.
Read more about this unique collaboration here.
While Madelyn was out on a nightly run, one wrong step changed her life in a big way. An uneven sidewalk hidden by a shadow caused her to step wrong and hyper-extend her leg, dislocate her knee and tear her anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments.
Doctors in the emergency room told her the damage was so severe they weren’t sure if she would be able to walk normally ever again.
“Doctors told me I basically blew out my entire knee,” she said. “I was devastated. My doctors said I had a long road ahead of me.”
She endured two surgeries, several months apart, to repair her knee and doctors used donor tendons in both procedures to repair the damaged ligaments. Her intense recovery time included several months in a wheelchair and then adjusting to crutches.
Madelyn’s evening runs were just a piece of her active lifestyle. In addition to going to nursing school, she also worked at an animal hospital part-time and worked full-time at a dairy farm. Her jobs demanded lengthy time spent on her feet, and the injury made that difficult.
“I was off work for three months, and I’m grateful that both of my employers let me ease back into work,” Madelyn said.
Though her injury and rehabilitation experience was not something she ever expected, Madelyn believes it will help her better connect with patients when she becomes a nurse.
“Being able to put myself in a patient’s position will help me better understand their pain. People have also asked about my injury and healing time, so I’m able to share my story that way too.”
Madelyn emphasized how important it was for her to have a strong support system while she recovered from her injury.
“I would like to thank my family and friends for all they’ve done for me since my accident. Without their support, my recovery would have been much more difficult.”
She settled back into her busy routine and even started running again. Madelyn says she is more of an advocate for donation after seeing how much it improved her life.
“When I was able to walk again after the first surgery, I thought about the donation a lot. It was very emotional – you never expect to need it, but then I was so grateful for it. I hope my story illustrates to others the importance of life and the ability to walk, and never taking either for granted.”
As the founder and CEO of Unity House of Davenport, a nonprofit organization providing housing and support for recovering addicts, Dennis manages seven recovery houses and an average of three new residents per week.
A voluntary deployment to Iraq in 2003 as a Department of Defense civilian inspired Dennis to open Unity House. Upon his return to the U.S., he began converting the house he was renovating into a place for recovering addicts as a way to give back to the community.
Running Unity House requires Dennis’ health and attention, both of which were hard to fully dedicate while Dennis endured the pain of a lifelong foot condition.
Dennis was 14 years old at the time of his first surgery to correct a bone in his foot that was out of place. Subsequent corrective surgeries over the years failed to heal the painful condition, and arthritis started to cause additional complications. His doctors tried cortisone injections, but the pain persisted.
His doctor recommended a surgical solution and Dennis underwent a procedure to prevent the arthritic bones from rubbing against each other. His doctor used cancellous chips, an allograft created from donated bone, during the surgery.
“I feel happy about the tissue transplant as a bit of this person lives on in me as I go through the rest of my life endeavoring to do God’s will and help others,” said Dennis. “I believe this is the same spirit in which the donor gave to me.”
Dennis’ recovery was slow and steady. He could not put any weight on his foot for six weeks, and then transitioned to crutches and a cane for six months following the surgery.
“I am able to walk today with no pain at all,” said Dennis. “I now use a stationary bicycle for exercise and I take our little dog for walks around the block. I honestly never dreamed I would be able to do this. I am so much happier today and I will be eternally grateful.”
Unity House has served over 2,000 residents since 2004, and the tissue donation offered by a generous donor will help Dennis continue to provide resources and support to those in need.
Snowboarding has been a huge part of John’s life for almost 20 years, so his life changed drastically when an injury forced him off the mountains. On a beautiful powder day in 2013, John fell and dislocated his shoulder and fractured his humeral head.
“My injury prevented me from being active and affected every aspect of my day-to-day life,” he said. “Needless to say, it ended my snowboarding season and sidelined me from just about all physical activity for months.”
John received a bone allograft during the procedure to repair his damaged shoulder. Bone allografts are created from donated human tissue and can be used for skeletal reconstruction.
“I was immediately grateful that a stranger had decided to donate tissue to someone they would never meet,” said John.
John was familiar with what his recovery process might entail after enduring several other shoulder surgeries. His activity level was restricted and he completed rigorous physical therapy. After several months of healing, he got his active lifestyle back.
He now participates in the array of outdoor sports Colorado has to offer – he enjoyed a great snowboarding season this past winter and looks forward to the summer activities he loves.
“I am back to golfing, running, hiking and camping,” he said. “I have no idea how much longer the recovery process may have been without an allograft or if I would have as much use of my arm today without it. As with my other shoulder procedures, my shoulder is not the same as it was before the injury, but life would look drastically different for me without the allograft or procedure.”
John is grateful for the donation that helped repair his shoulder and humbled by the generosity of the donor and the donor’s family. Receiving an allograft reaffirmed his belief in donation and he encourages others to register as donors.
“I have always elected to be an organ and tissue donor and my experience receiving a donation only reinforces my desire to donate my organ and tissues,” he said. “I have also reached out to friends and family about receiving a tissue donation and encouraged them to look into electing to become donors themselves.”
When Cebrina went to see her doctor for ongoing foot pain, she never imagined that her doctor would diagnose her with a rare bone disorder.
A bone scan revealed a four-inch tumor in Cebrina’s femur. Her diagnosis was Fibrous Dysplasia, an uncommon bone disease that causes bone pain, deformities and fractures. It can go unnoticed for years and can eventually cause bones to bow or fracture.
Her foot pain was unrelated to the Fibrous Dysplasia, but if not for the bone scan, the tumor in her leg could have continued to grow until it caused a bone fracture. Cebrina’s tumor had likely been growing for many years.
Cebrina’s doctor told her the tumor, though benign, was changing the shape of her femur and needed to be removed. After removing the tumor, her surgeon used cortical and cancellous chips, types of bone allografts, to fill the void in her femur. Bone allografts are created from tissue provided by generous donors who have passed away.
“You take your health for granted until something like this happens,” she said. “As I’m healing and getting better, I’m so appreciative of what I have.”
After surgery, Cebrina used crutches and eventually a cane to help her walk. She was determined to stay active and walked her dog along their usual route, even though it took two hours instead of one.
Through exercise and physical therapy, she eased back into her normal routine. Three weeks after surgery, Cebrina returned for half days to her busy job as the Audio Visual Administrative Assistant and Production Assistant for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
Cebrina reflected on receiving donated tissue during her procedure, and said that following surgery she double-checked her own donor status.
“I figured that someone gave to me and I want to pay that back someday,” she said.
Cebrina gauges her improvement by how long her walking route takes her, and she is happy to report her route is back to one hour. Her family encouraged her throughout the recovery process and bought her a stationary bike, so she could stay active. She is thankful for her health and for the donor who helped make her recovery possible.
Visitors to this site may know John’s story, the fire chief who received a bone allograft during spinal surgery. John completed intense physical therapy and personal training so he could get back to fighting fires and enjoying an active lifestyle.
No stranger to extreme physical challenges, John completed a rigorous obstacle race last week – he traversed 3.38 miles through 13 obstacles. The obstacles ranged from completing an agility run through 100 tires, jumping over fences and pommel horses, running through lagoons and ponds, crawling through deep sand over four hills, to swimming through muddy water. He finished second in his heat and though he was completely exhausted, he was very proud that he completed the race.
John knows he has come a long way in his recovery and doesn’t believe he could have completed such a grueling course a year ago. Even though he just finished a demanding race, he’s already preparing for a 5k this upcoming weekend. John’s commitment to fitness is one of the ways he honors the donor who helped him return to the activities he loves.
As Jodi and Jesse McGinley prepared for the birth of their twin boys, they never imagined one of the twins, Eli, would survive just 31 hours. The grieving parents made the brave decision to donate Eli’s tissues so his short life would have a long-lasting impact for another child.
The McGinley’s decision to donate saved the life of Cambrie Gadbois, a baby who was born with a heart defect and needed a heart valve transplant. The Gadbois family often thought about the family who helped save their daughter’s life while navigating the grief of losing a child. Both families wanted to meet, and recently they had the chance to do so.
Watch the moving video of their first meeting, where Jodi and Jesse were able to hear Eli’s heart valve at work for Cambrie.
When reviewing Mckenzie’s MRI, her doctor noticed a spot on her femur. He diagnosed Mckenzie with a rare tumor condition called Chondroblastoma, which can cause pain and recurring tumors. The condition generally affects long bones and is most common in children and young adults.
The pain forced Mckenzie to end her soccer career, a sport she played and loved since kindergarten. Normal activities like walking and standing became excruciating.
“It wasn’t easy being diagnosed with something so serious as a child,” said Mckenzie. “My life came to a complete stop. My family and I knew we needed to do something because it wasn’t a pain I could spend the rest of my life with.”
Since her diagnosis, Mckenzie has endured five surgeries to remove tumors and clean up her leg. In each surgery, she received donated tissue.
“I think it is amazing what we can do and how we can help others in need,” she said. “I am so thankful I was able to receive tissue.”
Mckenzie received a juvenile cartilage allograft in her most recent surgery. Juvenile cartilage allografts come from donors aged one month to 12-years-old.
Though she still faces some limitations, Mckenzie is pain-free and has been able to return to some of her favorite sports.
“My life won’t ever be 100% normal because of what the tumor did to my leg, but this has helped me in getting my life back,” she said. “If I hadn’t had this procedure I could have eventually lost my leg.”
Mckenzie is grateful for the tissue donation that helped her heal and hopes sharing her experience will encourage others to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.
“The only thing I can be is thankful to still be here, as healthy as I can be, and to make sure to tell my story to help others realize how important it is to be a donor.”
AlloSource Hosts Joey Gase, NASCAR Driver and Donor Son, with the Limb Preservation Foundation at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children | May 9, 2014
AlloSource hosted Joey Gase, a NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver and donor son, with the Limb Preservation Foundation at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian St. Luke’s. Gase combines his racing career with his passion for raising awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation by driving the Donate Life racecar.
When his mother, Mary Jo Gase, passed away suddenly from a brain aneurysm, Gase, who was just 18 at the time, made the decision to donate her organs and tissue. The experience inspired him to become an advocate for donation while he travels across the United States for races. AlloSource received Mary Jo’s tissue to process it for transplant and it has enhanced the lives of 59 people throughout the country and in Korea.
During his time in the Denver area, Gase visited the Limb Preservation Foundation at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital to see patients, including Jake Doud, a 17-year-old athlete and tissue recipient who had knee surgery in March. Jake received a cartilage allograft and will soon return to the sports he loves, thanks to donor tissue. If Jake did not receive a cartilage transplant, damage to his joint may have required a much more invasive joint replacement procedure. Dr. John Polousky, Jake’s doctor, sees the life-saving and life-enhancing benefits of tissue donation every day in his work at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.
AlloSource, The Limb Preservation Foundation and Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at Presbyterian St. Luke’s have worked together for 20 years to provide life-saving and life-enhancing possibilities for patients.
A West Virginia newscast spoke with a United Hospital Center nurse who sees the variety of ways donated tissue helps heal patients. Though tissue donation is sometimes less understood than organ donation, one tissue donor can impact over 150 people. Tissue is used in many different capacities ranging from replacing damaged bones or ligaments to aid burn or wound healing.
Though Meko’s life was short, his impact is long lasting because his parents made the selfless decision to donate his tissue. Meko was able to touch the lives of many through a very special type of knee transplant that utilizes juvenile cartilage allograft tissue to treat focal articular defects in the knee, foot, ankle, elbow, shoulder and hip joints.
The 8-month-old’s precious gift has given new hope and transformed the quality of life for:
-a 23-year-old man in Denver, CO
-a 33-year-old man in Thomaston, GA
-a 40-year-old woman in Skokie, IL
-a 24-year-old woman in Omaha, NE
-a 48-year-old woman in Edgewood, KY
…and 68 other individuals of all ages across the United States
His family takes comfort in knowing that Meko’s donation improved so many lives.
Nearly 1 million tissue transplants are performed every year, and the need for life-saving and life-enhancing donated tissue is on the rise. Donated tissue is used in a variety of medical procedures that can save limbs, heal burns, repair joints and more.
Exciting developments in the medical field have created more ways to maximize the gift of donated tissue, but with new discoveries comes a growing call for tissue donors.
A recent article by The Telegram & Gazette explores the need for more people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.
Four organ procurement organizations, Donor Alliance (Denver), Mid-America Transplant Services (St. Louis), Gift of Life (Ann Arbor), and the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (Pittsburgh), have opened separate recovery centers to increase efficiency and lower the cost of the complex donation process.
Staff members from the organ procurement organization (OPO) will transport the donor to the OPO’s surgical suite to perform the organ recovery, as opposed to waiting for an available operating room at a hospital. A separate recovery center frees up hospital space and personnel for emergencies and critical care.
Surgeons travel to the recovery center to recover the organs and then take them to transplant hospitals for placement. Mid-America Transplant Services reports that processing a donor at their own facility costs between 45% and 50% less than using the donor hospital.
The new recovery centers allow donor families to start the funeral process earlier and several OPOs offer donor family waiting rooms so families can be with their loved one longer.
Read more about this innovative way to honor the gift of donation here.
The National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) governs tissue banks in the United States. NOTA dictates that tissues cannot be bought or sold. The law allows for reimbursement of the costs related to the recovery, processing and storing of tissue. It also allows for reimbursement of costs associated with development related to tissue processing technologies. The value of donated tissue is priceless, and reimbursements reflect the expenses incurred with their recovery, processing and storage.
Source: American Association of Tissue Banks.
Professor Howard Green: Pushing the boundaries of regenerative medicine since 1983 | October 23, 2013
Harvard Medical School professor Howard Green is an innovator and pioneer. In 1983, he changed the culture and direction of burn treatment and skin transplantation and has since, positively affected countless people’s lives.
Professor Green was able to harness the power of stem cells and developed the first therapeutic use of cells grown in a lab providing hope and relief for severe burn victims.
After realizing the importance and magnitude of his research, Professor Green responded by founding Biosurface Technology to handle the commercialization of the process intending to maximize the reach of his life-changing discovery.
Professor Green’s story is truly an inspiration, read the full Harvard Gazette article HERE.
One year ago, Joseph Gutierrez was unsure if he would ever be an active individual again. Thanks to a gift from a generous donor, Joe is not only physically active, but also active in spreading the word about organ and tissue donation. For Donate Life Month, Joe took to the local news station to tell his personal story about the healing effects of donation.
Donation is truly a gift. The many ways a single donor can save and enhance the lives of others becomes vaster as science advances. One way that donors of any age, shape or size can heal others is through donating skin. Skin serves a wide variety of healing purposes. In the article linked below, we see how skin helps heal those suffering from severe wounds. In this particular case, when other methods failed, donor skin was the last hope for healing.
To all those who are registered donors or have a family member who donated, the gift of donation truly does heal and save.